Issue 047 is packed with 19 quality speculative fiction stories which means, aside from plenty of good reading, we also have lots of author interviews to share! Today we’re talking with Louise Hughes about her story “Look to the Future“.
LSQ: Your opening lines are so striking – combining a hook and worldbuilding together. How important are those openers for your writing? Do you often put that kind of emphasis at the get-go?
Louise: As a very linear writer, I like to get the first line right from the off. It sets the tone and puts me on the path to where I’m going. If I start to struggle later on in the story, it’s something to go back to. So, the concept of the main character being able to see into the past came after I’d already written half of the story but it was floundering a bit. I went back to that first line.
LSQ: It is very interesting that your MC is more like those of us in our world (at least at first), though she is an anomaly in hers. What were your thoughts when you wrote about the contrast?
Louise: It was much the same as writing about someone who is neurodiverse in our world. The main character is someone whose mind doesn’t work quite the same as everyone else around her. The decisions she makes aren’t always trusted because people know that the information she has when making them isn’t the same as the information they would have in the same situation. It’s a familiar feeling, that sense that everyone else has some additional information that you’re missing, so it wasn’t that much of a leap. She adapts, she forms her own systems rather than listening to the advice of those who don’t have her experiences, and she takes a few risks.
LSQ: Though the people can see into the future, how alone they all are! Since Kat can’t find the MC in her future, she must not be a part of her life and stops contact. People drift away when they know someone is going to die. Is part of your theme that taking risks into the unknown is a way to bring us together?
Louise: I think Kat’s decision was in some ways an excuse for the inevitable drifting apart of friends after school. It allowed her to make that clean break and to give a reason for it. It also saves a lot of time and effort trying to make a relationship work when someone is no longer a present part of your life. They can look ahead and say that, no, this person isn’t going to be there in the future and it might be worth concentrating my emotional efforts elsewhere. I think it would also be inevitable that some people would want to minimize the grief of losing someone they were close to by making that break earlier and by their own choice. Sad, but inevitable. In the end, Kat was wrong. The main character was in her future. She just didn’t look in the right place and that was the problem, making a decision based solely on her vision of the future rather than the friendship built up in the past.
LSQ: In the end, the MC has a different gift, to see into the past, which ends up comforting those who eventually can’t see the future. Tell us more about the connection from the past to the future in your story. Do things apply to our world as well?
Louise: History, particularly social history, is my area of interest but there is a lot of focus on STEM subjects over the arts and humanities in the UK right now. There’s a sense that those more scientifically or technically based subjects are the future and more worthy of investment. So initially, this was simply about the importance of history and studying history. Not just for its useful and direct lessons, but for the interest and joy it brings. I think there are parts of history that are reassuring and helpful. And history obviously has a place in our future, just looking at its use in popular culture and media now. Neither should exclude the other. I would also love to be able to see directly into the past because it would answer so many questions. It might stop a lot of arguing about it!